Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't forget the basics

Every four weeks or so, I spend time revisiting the basics of RKC training. I practice the fundamental lifts: Primitive Swings, Naked Getups, Sumo Deadlifts, Bodyweight Squats with little or no weight to make sure my form hasn't gone south. After all, if you can't do the basics properly, how will you do the advanced work?
Sounds boring, I know. But one of the fundamentals of the RKC is that we "practice" kettlebells, instead of working out with them. That means reverse engineering over and over again. This is also one of the reasons why RKCs are so proficient at what they do.
If you ever get the chance to go to baseball Spring Training, you will see batters hitting of a tee like a six-year-old before they see live pitching. Martial artists go through the same back-to-basics in their classes to reinforce motor muscle memory. And RKCs will practice the basic lifts over and over again to make sure they don't lose their skills.
When I hold speed camps, the very first thing I do is to re-educate my athletes on proper running technique.
When I work with clients in the gym, one of the first things I do is to re-teach the squat. On the wall. Over and over again.
I get so sick of seeing trainers ignore fundamentals and push their clients to lift more and more weight with improper, even dangerous form. The problem is that basics aren't sexy.
However, basics are effective:
When Navy Seal snipers took out three Somali pirates with three shots off a moving boat a month back, it wasn't because they practiced fancy shooting. It was because they practiced the basics over and over again, and had the confidence that they could perform this difficult task.
Make time for the basics. Reinforcing proper fundamental technique will ensure the more difficult stuff will become easier.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Three hour workout?????

I was at the gym the other day when I ran into a member who I have been trying to get to take a kettlebell class. I asked her if she was going to take our class that day.
"I can't," she said. "I'm tired from the classes I took this morning."
I asked her what she had done.
"I took an hour of body pump, ran on the treadmill for an hour and did a cardio abs class," she responded.
I asked her why she needed three hours of exercise.
"I like to eat," was her response."
Okay, so do I. But I also like to do other things. Such as spend three hours of my life somewhere other than the gym.
This woman routinely spends two to three hours every day in the gym, doing the same old 1980s workouts. And you know what, she hasn't lost an ounce of weight. (To be fair, she hasn't gained anything either.)
Let's do the math: 2 hours a day for 350 days is 700 hours a year. 3 hours is 1050 hours. She spends between 700 and 1000 hours a year in the gym, and is achieving nothing.
Can you think of a better way to spend that time? (Hint: a week is 168 hours).
Can you think aof a better way to work out?
The polar opposite of that is one of my students, Jon. Jon takes three classes a week from Buckeye Kettlebells. Three 45 minute classes. Less than 3 hours a week. (To be fair, he also swings kettlebells at home once or twice a week -- even at 5 hours a week, he is still under 250 hours for the year)
Jon has lost more than 60 pounds since January 1. Jon is stronger and more flexible than he has ever been. He has also gotten many compliments about his transformation.
Jon spends his extra 500 hours riding his Gold Wing, cooking, and tending his garden.
Who would you rather be?
Don't take too long thinking about it. You only have 499 more hours to ponder.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The RKC Family

When I first started martial arts, and passed my first belt test, I thought I knew everything. I had mastered my white belt forms, one steps, and techniques. I had arrived.

Or so I thought.

There was a new set of requirements to learn, memorize and perform. Mastery was out of the question here, as I was constantly hounded by my instructor about improper footwork, kicks, and hand position. Even when I thought I was perfect, I was nitpicked. And with good reason.

It was that way through orange, green, blue, purple, red and brown belts. The more I learned, the less I felt I knew. When I earned my black belts, I realized just how much I did not know.

The same is true with training. As a Certified Russian Kettlebell Instructor, I have passed a stringent and physically demanding test protocol. Like my black belts, the letters RKC were not handed to me. They were earned.

And like my black belts, those letters come with a responsibility to keep on learning, and striving for perfection in my technique, instruction, and health.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by much more learned RKCs. Individuals like Dave Whitley, Dr. Mark Cheng, Brett Jones, and Gray Cook have paved the way with their research and insight into training techniques, physical movement, and in many cases brutal challenges to make all RKCs better.

The commitment these individuals have to their craft is unsurpassed. And, in a way it challenges all other RKCs to be the best they can be. After all, if Dave Whitley can take the time for me, I owe it to my clients, my profession and my RKC family to do the same.

It is one reason I am proud to be an RKC.